State gets a little help to land Green Isle and Donegal Catch

Deal will see investor group look to ramp up growth of frozen foods businesses

The Government-backed Ireland Strategic Investment Fund (ISIF) has emerged as the biggest investor in the acquisition of the Green Isle and Donegal Catch food businesses, joining former Largo Foods executives Maurice Hickey and Ray Coyle in acquiring the businesses from 2 Sisters Food Group.

No consideration was disclosed for the deal, but the businesses had been expected to sell for more than €50 million.

The deal, which was first disclosed last October and has now closed, was supported by bank debt from Ulster Bank, and the investors include Mr Hickey, former chief executive of Largo Foods, Mr Coyle, an Irish entrepreneur and former founder of Largo Foods, and a number of other private investors. Largo owned Tayto and other snacks brands but that business has since been renamed Tayto Foods.

The acquisition of the frozen vegetables and frozen fish manufacturers will support more than 100 jobs at the manufacturing plant in Gurteen, Co Sligo and offices in Naas, Co Kildare. The combined businesses will operate under the Green Isle Foods banner and will seek to grow and develop the Green Isle and Donegal Catch brands.


Significant opportunity

The investor group said it “strongly believes” there is a significant opportunity to grow this leading indigenous food manufacturing business into the future, in both the frozen food and other growth segments of the food market.

Mr Hickey said he was “very excited” about the opportunity presented by the Green Isle foods business.

“It comprises quality brands with excellent market positions and offers a strong platform for growth. The investor group comprises highly experienced businesspeople and investors who have a strong appetite and commitment to the growth and development of Irish businesses,” he said.

Boparan Holdings, led by businessman Ranjit Singh, owns 2 Sisters, which in turn owns Green Isle. The Birmingham-based group acquired the Irish producer when it bought Northern Foods for £340 million in 2011.

The sale of the Green Isle and Donegal Catch brands to the Irish investors follows the divestment last year of Green Isle's Goodfella's and San Marco pizza business by 2 Sisters to Nomad Foods, which owns brands including Birds Eye and Findus, for €225 million. That sale included manufacturing sites in Co Longford and Co Kildare.

Fiona Reddan

Fiona Reddan

Fiona Reddan is a writer specialising in personal finance and is the Home & Design Editor of The Irish Times